Miracleman, Chapter 8 Concludes

We’ve begun discussing chapter eight (parts onetwo, three, four, and five) of Alan Moore’s Miracleman, illustrated by Alan Davis. Today, we conclude our exploration of that chapter.

(We’ve also previously introduced Miracleman and discussed chapters onetwothreefourfive, six, and seven, as well as the interlude “The Yesterday Gambit.”)

Two pages later, however, the next flashback page seems to emphasize the first explanation: that Cream has been pursuing Miracleman for some time. The caption tells us that, while Cream looks on, Miracleman steps “Out of the dark, the dark of legend.”

The word “legend” is an odd word choice. It seems to strain the “out of the dark” refrain, because it requires us to see “legend” not as famous so much as obscuring the truth, and the reader must further connect this obscurity with darkness. But it’s worth pointing out that “legend” (at least since Book One’s first collected edition in 1988) is the title of the second chapter, where it’s connected with Miracleman’s memories of his costumed past. This suggests that the “legend,” out of which Miracleman is emerging, reflects not only the dry facts of Cream’s investigation, now made flesh, but also Miracleman’s own memories of his past, out of which he is indeed emerging.

Subsequent captions reiterate Cream’s reaction, like that of a man suddenly standing before a god. They call Miracleman “unbelievable,” “unknowable,” and “unnerving.” This turns Miracleman’s godlike status, and Cream’s reaction to it, on its head. Cream’s reaction might be worshipful, but it’s also one of fear. But the final adjective, “unnerving,” also suggests how the presence of a god unsettles one’s understanding of humanity, or even seems to lower one’s estimation of it.

Miracleman then speaks to Cream for the first time. His words express a willingness to “trust” Cream, at least for the time being. But they read as confident, even casual, as if his hesitancy to trust is objectively based on Cream’s behavior, rather than fear.

In response, Cream stutters. It’s totally unlike him and an illustration of how unsettling he finds being in the presence of this god.

Once he composes himself, he directs Miracleman to “the bunker in which you were unknowingly subjected to the experiments,” which “is located in Cotswold Hills.” Like other geographic references in Miracleman, the Cotswolds is a real region in England, known for its limestone hills and its rural beauty. The region has inspired composers such as Herbert Howells and Gustav Holst. It’s not clear where in the region the Zarathustra bunker lies, although the area is rural enough that it might reasonably remain a secret. It may also be worth noting that one of the Cotsworlds’s traditional industries is sheep and wool, which reflects the area’s rural nature but might also serve as a metaphor (intended or not) for the way Project Zarathustra has farmed, deceived, and slaughtered the Miracleman Family.

As we near the end of this final flashback page, Cream warns Miracleman that the Spookshow “may have had time to erect defenses” – which we’ve already seen throughout the chapter. In response, Miracleman smiles at Cream and says, “You’re not talking to Mike Moran now, you know.”

from Miracleman, Chapter 8, page 6 (Warrior version)from Miracleman, Chapter 8, page 6 (Eclipse version)It’s a telling moment, in which Miracleman seems to put Cream in his place, suggesting that all of Cream’s training means nothing, in the wake of a superhuman. But Miracleman’s dialogue also seems to denigrate Mike Moran, and we should here remember Miracleman’s rather less subtle description of Mike Moran as “that old, tired body,” immediately upon Miracleman’s return. In speaking of Moran in the third person, Miracleman’s dialogue also seems to confirm the theory (first verbalized in chapter six, but implicit as early as that same line of dialogue in chapter one) that Moran and Miracleman are really two separate people.

Because this is the penultimate page, the dialogue in the Spookshow panel leads into the revelation of Big Ben, on the final page.

The page’s final panel is of Miracleman flying through the air, presumably to the Cotswolds, where he would next approach the bunker, as seen in this chapter’s present-day pages. Miracleman is blurred in the artwork, because he’s streaking through the sky, but if we look carefully, we can see a bulge on his left side. We might confuse this for Miracleman’s leg, except that the panel’s second caption suggests that he’s carrying Cream. It refers to “they,” not “he,” and says that “the man of light [is] carrying the man of shadows.” Although Cream isn’t seen on this chapter’s present-day pages, he’ll rejoin Miracleman in the following chapter.

from Miracleman, Chapter 8, page 6 (Warrior version)“The man of light carrying the man of shadows” is an interesting formulation, identifying Cream with the darkness of the title, a darkness linked to covert government programs. In contrast, Miracleman is identified with light, and this is tied to his innocence and to the twinkling glow that surrounds him.

But we shouldn’t ignore the racial overtones present here. Cream is the only black character so far, and he’s a murder who, while certainly competent and as of this chapter no longer a simple “bad guy,” is tied to the secret world of “black ops” that Miracleman doesn’t present in a favorable light. In contrast, Miracleman looks like an Aryan dream; he’s presented as a white, blonde god who, although already morally questionable, remains the story’s hero and is a victim of these same “black ops.” To some extent, Moore and Miracleman are here caught up in the bias of the English language itself, in which “black” has negative associations and is easily poetically linked to terms like “shadowy,” which may be a pejorative simply because human beings fear the night, in which they did not evolve to see well. But such racial tensions have been present since Cream’s introduction (in chapter five), which featured his sapphire teeth and described him as “the Devil.”

The next chapter will directly address this racial subtext for the first time.

from Miracleman, Chapter 8, page 6 (Eclipse version)Next time, Book One’s penultimate chapter.

Tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

See more, including free online content, on .

Also by Julian Darius:

This Lightning, This Madness: Understanding Alan Moore\'s Miracleman, Book One

author

executive producer

Classics on Infinite Earths: The Justice League and DC Crossover Canon

author

producer

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics

contributor

executive producer

When Manga Came to America: Super-Hero Revisionism in Mai, the Psychic Girl

author

a short documentary on Chris Claremont's historic run and its influence

executive producer

Warren Ellis: The Captured Ghosts Interviews

introduction

Voyage in Noise: Warren Ellis and the Demise of Western Civilization

co-author

Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan

contributor

The Weirdest Sci-Fi Comic Ever Made: Understanding Jack Kirby\'s 2001: A Space Odyssey

author

The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil

contributor

Everything and a Mini-Series for the Kitchen Sink: Understanding Infinite Crisis

author

Revisionism, Radical Experimentation, and Dystopia in Keith Giffen\'s Legion of Super-Heroes

author

And the Universe so Big: Understanding Batman: The Killing Joke

author

a feature-length documentary film on celebrated comics writer Warren Ellis

executive producer

Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide

contributor

Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen

contributor

a documentary on the life and work of celebrated comics writer Grant Morrison

executive producer

Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen

author

Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes

contributor

3 Comments

  1. Brett Harris says:

    G’Day Julian,
    Thanks for this sereis of articles (and the site as a whole), they have provided many hours of enjoyment and intellectual stimulation.
    Great observation regarding the use of the Cotswalds as the location of the Project Zarathustra bunker, as the Miracleman family have indeed had the wool pulled over their eyes quite comprehensively.
    There is also the implication that Miracleman and co. are the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing – on the surface they appear to be normal humans, in fact are very normal specimens of humanity – but underneath are, as Moore continues to remind us, animals akin to tigers and dragons.

    It’s an obvious point, I know, but I wanted to contribute to the discussion (even if it is in such a small way !).

    Look forward to reading the rest of the series (and the DareDevil book !)

    See you,

    Brett
    aka The Comic Book Evangelist

  2. There is another reading that can be taken from Miracleman’s ” You’re not talking to Mike Moran now, you know.” comment. Where you see Miracleman belittling Mr. Cream, I see reassurance. Yes, Moore uses plenty of verbage to suggest how everything in this chapter is little when stacked up against Miracleman, but I don’t think the blond, Aryan god is meaning to put Cream in his place.

    Certainly, part of what makes Cream nervous around Miracleman is the profound and unnerving power our hero exudes. More personally, however, this is a being of godlike power whom Mr. Cream just recently stalked, ambushed, shot, drugged, gagged, and kidnapped. I imagine Cream is shaken up particularly because Miracleman not only has the means to easily kill him, but also a motive.

    When Miracleman clarifies “You’re not talking to Mike Moran now, you know.” I see Miracleman trying to assure Cream that the man he stalked, ambushed, shot, drugged, gagged, and kidnapped is not the same person as Miracleman. Mike Moran may hold a grudge against Mr. Cream, but Miracleman is beyond such petty concerns. Miracleman may take some amusement in seeing Mr. Cream tremble and stutter, but he means the man no intentional harm. He may even be grateful to Cream for leading him to the Zarathustra bunker.

    I notice that, during this chapter, not only is Mr. Cream more fleshed out as a character, but Moore has stopped referring to him as “the devil”. I think perhaps that calling Mr. Cream a devil was shorthand for making the reader associate Cream with danger. I get the sense that Moore began to understand Mr. Cream’s motivations as he wrote, making him a more complex character as time went on. The Alan Moore who called Mr. Cream “the devil” in Chapter 5 is not as mature as the Alan Moore here in Chapter 8. It’s remarkable that Moore could grow and develop so quickly while working on Miracleman, but his post Miracleman work (Swamp Thing, Watchmen) proves that out.

Leave a Reply